Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue No. 9 - Evidence - October 5, 2016
OTTAWA, Wednesday, October 5, 2016
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 11:30 a.m. to
study issues relating to human rights and, inter alia, to review the machinery
of government dealing with Canada's international and national human rights
obligations. (Topic: Gender Based Analysis in the making of federal policy and
Senator Jim Munson (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good morning, senators, and welcome to our Human Rights
Committee, to the audience at home.
Before we begin, I would like all the senators to introduce themselves.
We will start with introductions on my right. The deputy chair, Salma
Ataullahjan, is not here today. She's at other meetings.
Senator Hubley: Elizabeth Hubley, Prince Edward Island.
Senator Nancy Ruth: Nancy Ruth, Ontario.
Senator Beyak: Senator Lynn Beyak, Ontario, replacing Senator
Ataullahjan for today.
Senator Andreychuk: Senator Andreychuk, Saskatchewan.
Senator Omidvar: Senator Omidvar, Toronto.
Senator Ngo: Senator Ngo from Ontario.
The Chair: I'm Senator Munson from Ontario.
First of all, before we recognize our panel, I would like to acknowledge that
Senator Nancy Ruth is a champion on these issues. Last week even I learned a
whole lot about the issue of gender-based analysis.
Today we're continuing our study on gender-based analysis in the making of
federal policy and legislation. Via video conference, we have the European
Women's Lobby, Joanna Maycock, Secretary General; we have the Canadian Centre
for Policy Alternatives, Kate McInturff, Senior Researcher; and also via video
conference we have the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action,
Shelagh Day, Co-Founder.
I would also like to welcome Senator Yonah Martin, who has just joined us,
who is an esteemed member of this committee.
Ms. McInturff, you could start and then we'll open it up to questions. We
have lots of time to have a good discussion and to learn more.
Kate McInturff, Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives: Good morning, everyone. My name is Kate McInturff and I'm a
senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. I want to
thank you for taking up this important work and for inviting me to be here
I want to begin by saying that women are not a special interest group. They
are half the population, 48 per cent of our labour force and 53 per cent of
university graduates. However, as much as we share, as much as we have in
common, men and women do face distinct challenges to their personal and economic
To give some examples of the differences that shape men's and women's access
to economic security, women are twice as likely to work part time and 21 times
more likely to cite caring for children as the reason they do so. They work in
different occupational sectors than do men, for different rates of pay. They are
10 times as likely to take parental leave, and they take a year on average after
the birth of a child, compared to 2.5 weeks on average taken by men. They are
more likely to live below the low-income line and more likely to be single
parents. When they are single parents, one in three live in poverty.
Gender-based analysis is nothing more or less than a tool for describing
these differences and designing policies and programs that serve those distinct
needs and challenges. The implementation of that analysis requires political
will, without which we are wasting our time and, frankly, burning out a whole
lot of analysts. It also requires us to understand that when we serve both
halves of our population well, we are enabling them to participate fully in
society and in our economy, which is good for everyone.
I noticed a tendency in some of the earlier testimony to this committee to
characterize women as recipients of programs and services, which they are, but I
would like to make the point that all of us benefit from women's labour. Women's
entry into paid work over the last three decades has contributed to rising
household incomes at a time when male wages have been largely stagnant. It
contributes to economic growth, and they contribute to government revenues
through the taxes they pay on their incomes.
Economic policy designed with the aid of gender-based analysis is not an act
of kindness or charity; it is good economic policy and it benefits us all. I
welcome the commitment of this government to conduct gender-based analysis and
the exercise of that commitment by the central agencies of the government.
I know you have already heard from the Privy Council and the Treasury Board
about the work they are doing. Rather than go over that ground in my
presentation, I would like to turn to Finance Canada and use the example of the
2016 federal budget, because I believe there is more work to be done here and
it's a good example that demonstrates very clearly the difference that
gender-based analysis can make and why we need to think about gender- based
analysis as central to good governance rather than a special program for a
First, what does a gender-based analysis tell us about the difference that
gender makes in our economy? It tells us that men and women tend to work in
different occupations, so we see men making up the majority of workers in fields
such as construction and engineering, whereas women make up the majority of
workers in health and social services, as well as education. In a period of slow
growth, the government is rightly concerned with increasing employment and
productivity, and gender-based analysis tells us that this means we should be
investing in job creation — both in sectors where men work and in sectors where
However, if you look at the $11.6 billion in new budget measures in the 2016
budget that are intended to create jobs, women, by my accounting, will make up
approximately a third of the people who benefit from those jobs, in spite of
being nearly half the labour force. This suggests at the very least an
implementation gap, and I think perhaps this comes in part from a tendency to
view women as a special interest and as recipients of government programming
rather than as economic and political actors driving our economy into a period
of better growth.
Gender-based analysis, by this logic, is something for Status of Women to be
concerned with, and not for Finance. Yet the research is clear that if we invest
in predominantly female occupational sectors in parallel with our investments
in, for example, physical infrastructure projects, we would see a rise in female
labour force participation.
The OECD estimates that if we could narrow the gap, if we could cut the gap
between men's and women's employment levels in half, we would add 8 per cent in
GDP growth over the next two decades.
This might explain why, when the IMF was in town earlier this year to conduct
their review of the state of Canada's economy, they wanted to talk about
infrastructure spending, but they also wanted to talk about child care. Why? Not
because the IMF is a sister but because they see increasing female labour force
participation as central to increasing the productivity of Canada's economy.
Perhaps it is stating the obvious to say it is not enough to conduct the
analysis. There need to be mechanisms in place to ensure decisions are made
based on the conclusions of that analysis.
More than that, the government needs to review policies and programs, once
they are in place and before they are at the end of their life cycle, to ensure
that they actually have been successful in meeting the needs of men and women.
The government of Norway is a good example. They not only require ministries
to provide a gender-based analysis when they propose new programs and policies
but they also conduct an analysis of the program once it's in place, and if they
find it is not adequately meeting the needs of women and girls, then they make
changes to the program.
Finally, the committee has rightly focused on the role of government and
Parliament in ensuring that gender-based analysis is conducted, implemented and,
I would add, reviewed.
However, research also demonstrates that civil society plays an essential
role in the production of gender-sensitive public policy. Civil society is an
important source of expertise and experience. The organizations that implement
programs also have important insights into how those programs are working or are
not working. Researchers and academics working outside of the government do this
as well, and I think your own witness list is testimony to this.
Yet, at the moment, we are spending less than .02 per cent of total federal
program spending, excluding transfers, on funding for Status of Women Canada. So
the granting portion of Status of Women's budget would be even less than two
one-hundredths of 1 per cent. This is, in the words of an experienced
bureaucrat, budget dust.
Gender-based analysis should not be one more piece of unpaid labour performed
by women. Investing in women's organizations allows governments to benefit from
the store of knowledge that those organizations hold but rarely have the time or
resources to share.
This is not charity. This is about remembering that women make up half our
population, 48 per cent of our labour force and, given half the chance, have
more than a few cents worth of advice to offer their government on the question
of how best to govern.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. McInturff. We have with us now Senator Grant
Mitchell, who is the government liaison whip in the Senate. I'm the chair of
this committee, but a former whip.
Continuing our gender-based analysis this morning, we will go now to Ms.
Shelagh Day, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action.
Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee and Co-Founder, Canadian
Feminist Alliance for International Action:
Thank you very much.
I want to thank Senator Nancy Ruth for keeping us all sharp on this issue. I
think it is extraordinarily important. I want to thank also the government for
its commitment to gender-based analysis. My comments today have more to do with
the practicalities of what's in front of us.
I want to start by saying that I think the goal of gender-based analysis is
essentially to fulfill government obligations that we have agreed to, and I
would say particularly in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
So Canada has committed itself to take ". . . in all fields, in particular in
the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures,
including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women .
. . .''
We adopted that convention in 1979. And the Beijing Declaration and Platform
for Action grew out of that, and then gender-based analysis grew out of that as
a tool for ensuring that in fact governments were taking all the steps that they
could in order to ensure the full advancement of women.
Governments are an extraordinarily important player in this question of
women's equality and have a very big role to play.
I want to start by saying that looking at the documents that I think the
committee is reviewing, I see some things that are missing, and I want to talk
about those a little bit.
First of all, as far as I can see from the documents that we have, the
process that is being proposed, planned and set up is only forward looking. It
seems to assume, therefore, that the status quo is equality. But the status quo
is not equality, as Kate has pointed out. The status quo is women's inequality.
Consequently, it's very important that any gender-based analysis that we
undertake now, with a new commitment from a new government, is actually looking
at what is already in place that contributes to or impedes women's equality —
not just new programs, new proposals, new pieces of legislation that are coming
up but what is actually in place now.
That takes me to my second point, which is that in order to do gender-based
analysis in 2016, in the way that I think it needs to be done, there needs to be
a government plan. In other words, I think that government, cabinet, needs to
look at its programs, policies and legislation overall and decide what are the
priorities for shifting, changing and transforming the policies that are in
place and the strategies that are coming up.
There isn't — that I can perceive in the documents that I have received — a
plan here or a process for a plan. There is a lot of process, so there are a lot
of ways and means for government departments to do gender-based analysis in
their own shops and then it trickling upwards to the Privy Council Office and
Treasury Board, et cetera, for review. But there is not a plan for identifying
and working on major things that need to be addressed in order to deal with the
real issues of women's equality, some of which Kate has touched on, which have
to do with economic equality, women in the work force and so on.
The third thing I would say is it's not clear to me from the documents I've
seen that there is a regular plan for gender budgeting or gender-based analysis
of budgets. That's an extraordinarily important thing, as Kate has pointed out.
One of the things that the organization I work with has tried to do is to get
human rights and money together. The implementation of human rights has
everything to do with how we allocate financial resources to particular
strategies and programs, so what happens in a budget is probably the
government's most important human rights tool every year.
Kate has given you one example in terms of last year's budget about
infrastructure spending. I can give you another example that's close to my
heart. In the 2016 budget, $88 million was assigned for new funding for criminal
law and legal aid. There was no new funding for civil law legal aid. Now we know
there is a huge gender difference in the kinds of legal aid that men and women
need. Men are the main users of criminal law legal aid; women are the main users
of civil law legal aid, particularly for family law.
Family law legal aid in this country is in crisis. Contributions to civil law
legal aid have gone drastically down over the last 20 years. That puts women
often in very high-conflict situations in a very vulnerable position when they
can't get the kind of legal representation that they need.
When I look at the 2016 budget and I see that we've got money allotted for
criminal law legal aid but no specific money for civil law legal aid and nothing
in the Canada Social Transfer that specifically says there should be money out
of this envelope spent on civil law legal aid because of its importance to
women's equality, then I also see a gender issue that ought to be addressed.
The gender-based analysis we do inside government needs a human rights
framework. We need to understand in doing the work we're doing on gender-based
analysis that essentially we're trying to fulfill rights that we have committed
ourselves to in our Constitution, in our human rights acts and in international
treaties that we've signed. That's an important framework for understanding what
we're trying to achieve, so we should analyze the steps that we take in terms of
whether or not they will fulfill the rights we've committed ourselves to
Again, completely in agreement with Kate, the role of women's civil society
organizations here is crucial. There is a huge expertise in the country about
this on particular issues and on general issues. It's extraordinarily important
that government does this in partnership with civil society organizations and
uses the expertise and knowledge that's there. Otherwise it's being wasted when
in fact it could be very importantly supporting and assisting government.
There is a feminist academic expertise in Canada that's extraordinary and
that should be used by government in this exercise. There should be a regular
process, way, route for this kind of engagement with civil society organizations
who are often on the front line of delivering services and with feminist
Maybe this is rounding back, but this process needs leadership. Perhaps
that's the very most important thing, and the leadership has to come from the
top. What I see in the documents so far seems to me a kind of trickle-up theory
— that if we train a lot of people and if we have champions in various parts of
departments, then the understanding of gender-based analysis will somehow
trickle up through the system and result in good policies that serve women as
well as men.
But I think that we're at a point where this process needs very important
leadership from the top, and I mean the very top, and I think that Kate's point
about Finance is extraordinarily important. We can't say that the Minister of
Status of Women is the person who has the chief responsibility for this. She
doesn't have the clout in cabinet. I don't mean Patty Hajdu. I mean no Minister
of Status of Women in Canada has ever had the clout in cabinet because her
portfolio doesn't have money, and the real power in cabinet lies elsewhere. So
her role is extraordinarily important, but the real power lies in cabinet in the
portfolios with the money, and there's where leadership has to happen.
It's very important that we understand that in order for this to work and to
make real change for women in Canada, we need leadership from the top of the
government, from the portfolios, the Privy Council Office, Finance, the places
that have the most power in terms of organizing and shaping how government
strategies will go and where allocations of money land.
Lastly, accountability is extraordinarily important. This can't be a secret
process. It can't be something that is happening inside departments that
senators and parliamentarians don't know about or that people in the public
don't know about or that women's organizations in civil society can't get access
to. It needs to be done in an open way, and it needs to be reviewed and
monitored and overseen in an open and very consistent way.
I'll come back to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women. Canada is being reviewed by the United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on October 25 in
Geneva, and a number of women's organizations are making submissions and will go
to Geneva, as will representatives of the Government of Canada, for that review.
We consider it extraordinarily important, and one of the reasons it is
extraordinarily important is that it's the only accountability mechanism we
have. We don't have a domestic accountability mechanism that we can interact
with to talk to governments about where women are and what needs to be done in
order to move women forward. So we use the mechanism available to us, which is
under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in
order to engage in that conversation, and I think we could do better. We could
actually also be carrying on that dialogue and conversation in Canada
domestically, and it would be valuable to governments and to women, and I think
we can do it. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Day, from Vancouver.
We'll continue from Brussels with Joanna Maycock. Ms. Maycock is the
Secretary-General of the European Women's Lobby. Welcome to our committee.
Joanna Maycock, Secretary General, European Women's Lobby: Thank you
very much, and greetings from Brussels. Bonjour.
It's a real pleasure to be here and to be invited to speak to you today, and
I wanted to congratulate the senators there present for your interest in this
subject, and we were particularly intrigued that this is taking place in the
Human Rights Committee. That seems to us to be an important signal of the
importance Canada is placing on the reflection of this work.
European Women's Lobby is an umbrella organization with member organizations
of women's associations across the European Union, so we represent more than
2,000 women's organizations across 31 countries — that's all the EU member
states and then those countries negotiating to join, so from Turkey to Ireland,
from Finland to Portugal.
I was invited to bring a bit of information about what's happening in Europe
in particular. First, Europe is unfortunately no paradise for gender equality.
In spite of making huge amounts of progress over the last 50 years, we've
actually found that we have stopped progressing on gender equality over the last
decade. So we have — and that's a thing I would suggest if you don't do already
— excellent statistics that we use and gather officially across the European
Union every two years into something called the Gender Equality Index, and it
reviews official statistics across eight areas and several indicators, and it
provides information about progress or lack thereof on gender equality across
the European Union. Unfortunately, it tells us that 10 years ago we were at
around 51.5 per cent of the way towards full equality between women and men, and
today we are about 52 per cent, which by our reckoning is a kind of stagnation.
Trying to achieve gender equality, equality between women and men, which is a
legal commitment by the European Union and in international treaties, as Shelagh
just said, is like pushing a boulder up a hill. Imagine a very steep hill, and
the more of you there are and the more momentum you have behind you, the easier
it is to keep pushing that boulder up the hill; but the minute you stop or you
pay attention elsewhere or some of your party leaves, it becomes much harder to
keep pushing that boulder up the hill. Actually it is very easy for the boulder
to go backwards. We've seen a significant number of countries in Europe that are
actually going backward in terms of gender equality, including Denmark and the
U.K., believe it or not.
I wanted to bring some information about how this gender-based analysis, as
you call it, works in Europe. We mainly talk about gender mainstreaming in
Europe, and gender budgeting. In Europe, gender mainstreaming is actually part
of the Treaty on European Union. So, not only is there a commitment to equality
between women and men, which is the second article of the Treaty on European
Union, but there is also an article saying it is compulsory to analyze the
gender impact in every piece of policy and legislation that goes through the
European Union. That's been in place for a decade or more.
As Shelagh was saying, it also flows from commitments made at Beijing and
prior commitments in terms of SEDL, and in a sense, recent commitments made
around sustainable development goals also are international commitments, really,
to advance gender equality. That's because, as the previous speakers have
already said, there is so much evidence. This is an issue of human rights first
and foremost, and of delivering on commitments to equality for women and men and
gender equality. But it's also smart policy, smart budgeting and smart
economics. It's actually making politics and policy as if people matter, and as
if they actually live their lives as they do. Men and women experience their
lives differently, and different kinds of women also experience their lives
What we find is that despite the legal commitment to gender mainstreaming,
all too often it's actually an afterthought, or it's assigned to some junior
officer way down the hierarchy in an institution. It doesn't get adequate
resources in terms of the power that Shelagh was referring to earlier. It's
sometimes given to a person who has it on top of their day job, who is
super-committed and very smart but doesn't have the leverage within their
institution, department or organization.
We have gender focal points, formally, across all committees in the European
Parliament, and in the different departments within the European Commission. Too
often, what we have seen is it's one of the first three things to be cut back or
to retreat. The first victim of any cuts to public spending — and we've seen a
lot of that in Europe over the last decade — tends to be investment in women's
rights and gender equality. It is the first to go, and that's because there's
not a level playing field to start with. I just wanted to give you a couple of
The first is really about the waves of austerity that we've been seeing
across Europe. In our analysis, austerity has been a disaster for all people in
Europe, and for the economy, but it's been a double disaster for women. We've
done some publications that we can share with you that show that, because we
don't take account on the gender impact of public spending, too often the cuts
to public services and public spending impact women twice as hard.
And this is one of the reasons why we think we've stagnated on advancing on
gender equality in Europe. Why is that? It is not only because women are more
likely to use public services for all the reasons that Kate mentioned at the
beginning, but also because women are more likely to be public servants. They
are more likely to be in public sector jobs and in the kinds of jobs that are
going to be cut, particularly part-time work or more precarious contracts within
public sector work.
Worryingly, one study looked at not only the gender impact, but the gender
and race impact of austerity across the whole of London, where it was found you
were 10 times more likely to lose your job in the austerity cuts if you were a
black woman than if you were a white man, so there are also additional concerns
when it comes to different groups of women.
Another example that shows the other extreme is the European Investment Bank,
which is a European institution and therefore ought to be held to the same
standards in the treaty. The European Investment Bank makes investment decisions
of around 70 billion euros per year and yet has no gender mainstreaming or
equality strategy whatsoever. For us, that means that 70 billion euros in
investment decisions are made that actually further gender inequality. They
certainly do not support the achieving of gender equality.
I wanted to say what we think is needed to make gender mainstreaming, gender
budgeting and gender analysis work. I listened to some of the hearing from last
week and I agree in that I think a lot of that was about training the staff
within the departments and ministries. But for us, the absolutely main indicator
of success is political will and leadership from the very top, whether that's
from an institution, a ministry or a local authority. Often it's the mayors who
are able to make a real difference when they are committed to this. If you don't
have political will and leadership where there's power, this will frankly never
work as it can work.
You also need accountability. You need the public scrutiny, the parliamentary
scrutiny and, very importantly, the involvement of women's and feminist
organizations and academics. You need some expertise, but you shouldn't be
afraid. Sometimes, I think people feel it's such an area of technical expertise
that they shy away from it. This is just about making policy and politics as if
people matter and considering the impact of your policy on people.
We would suggest that where we have seen this working is where Finance
Ministers and budget committees — so, those with the money and the scrutiny over
money — have women's rights expertise or analysis within their ranks. That's
where we see that really works, because that's often where the power over
decision-making around money lies.
Gender analysis has to include budget analysis, as far as we're concerned. We
think that it helps to have experts across all of the ministries and for those
to be connected, but they need to have an ear at the top of your government,
ministry, local authority or whatever level of government you are working at.
Also, you need to invest in the support of women's organizations, either the
service providers or those with the intellectual policy expertise, because they
know what works. That's the good news I want to bring.
Canada used to be number one in the world when it came to gender equality,
but unfortunately, I think it has slipped below 20. You know how to do it,
actually. You have fantastic expertise and experience that could be refreshed,
revisited and brought up to date. We know it's possible.
The other good news is that Canada could become one of the leading countries
in this. You have the capacity to do that, with the political will, and from the
other side of the Atlantic, we have watched your Prime Minister make a lot of
public statements about his commitment to feminism, women's rights and gender
equality. This seems to us, from the other side of the water, to be a massive
opportunity for Canada to lead the way and be a leading light. We would
certainly be cheering you on.
One final thing I wanted to add is that I think you asked me for examples,
and I can perhaps come to those later. In Europe, we have an official European
agency responsible for gender equality. It's called the European Institute for
Gender Equality, and that's the agency that gathers the official statistics I
referred to earlier, but it also provides fantastic online resources. It
recently published a new part of its website, which is completely open to the
public, which is jam-packed full of fantastic materials, examples, user-friendly
training resources and best practices, all around the issue of gender
mainstreaming. I will send to you the link for that because it's really
practical and full of amazing examples.
They are also in the process of preparing a whole package about gender
budgeting and gender budget analysis, which we think will be published in
January. Again, there will be some fantastic examples there that you can draw
upon, and it's all very publicly available.
I'll leave it at that. I've got some concrete examples if you wanted to ask
for more specifics, but I thought I'd just give that overview to start with.
Thank you once again for inviting us.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Maycock. The reason the volume that you're
listening to is a little lower, Ms. Maycock, is because there was a translation
issue for a few minutes, but we have that all back. We have language equality
here; we wanted to make sure things worked. Senators can put their earphones on
to ask questions and listen to Ms. Maycock.
We'll start the questioning with Senator Nancy Ruth, who I mentioned earlier.
I just heard the word "champion'' in departments, and people are talking about
champions, so I'm not so sure about that word, now, but we do have a leader.
Senator Nancy Ruth can lead off our questioning.
Senator Nancy Ruth: It's very difficult to know where to start, but I
thank all of you for your comments. How? Examples are needed. More ideas are
needed for me. How do we get the Minister of Finance? It may be easier to get
the Prime Minister to make these comments, but how do we get the ministry of
finance to actually be radical in its analysis?
We saw, last week, the checklist from the Privy Council Office, and it has no
analysis to it at all. It's effectively useless, I thought, to really making
anything substantive. So I'd like some ideas about how we do it.
I think it's a real trick and a half to do it because there's so much
resistance within that department. Over the years, on the Finance Committee,
they have refused to answer the question on where the GBA analysis is. They just
won't do it. I actually had dinner a couple of times with the champion who
couldn't wait to get out of that part of her job.
So it's a bit of a tough sell up here to move it forward. More ideas, please.
And you're absolutely right; it's a trickle- up, useless effort.
The Chair: Ms. Maycock?
Ms. Maycock: I have a couple of thoughts that hopefully might give you
some ideas. One really exciting example that we've seen in Europe happened in
France. The minister of women's rights in France, who, as you can imagine,
doesn't hold the most budget or power — that's the case, unfortunately, across
all governments — was able to persuade President Hollande that all ministers
should receive mandatory training on gender analysis. They, smartly, did this as
a group. All ministers were required collectively to participate in a training
session that was, as you can imagine, very carefully prepared over the course of
The training package was around one hour, not more than that. It was very
much tailored to the French situation. It was about tackling some of the
preconceptions that gender equality is being achieved and also demystifying a
bit what is meant by integrating gender analysis. It was very politically savvy
the way the training was done and the fact that they were all required to be
there. The president was there himself, and the training was very well planned.
I think it had a huge impact across government because there's that mutual
accountability amongst ministers as well and towards the president. There's an
example where it comes right from the top. We'll happily put you in touch with
the people who did that training, and they could talk to you about that.
It was so successful that it led to many changes, actually, in policy and
even law in France. They are one of the countries that's improving in terms of
gender equality in Europe, although, obviously, they had some way to go to start
I think that has proven to be extremely successful. It was partly also
because the president saw it as a win-win for the economy, for the society and
also politically for him as well. That's obviously very important when you're
dealing with ministers, that they can see the political interest in doing that.
It has also been copied now by the Belgian government, who basically asked
for a similar type of training to happen at the federal and also regional levels
in Belgium. That happened earlier this year, so I'm not quite sure yet of the
long- term impact of that. I think that could be a really interesting approach
and quite practical, actually, and it makes good photo opportunities, as well,
for the politicians involved.
The second thing is about how you use external pressure. I don't know enough
about what works in the Canadian context. What we see often is that the pressure
might come from the IMF — the IMF certainly has a lot of power in Europe — in
terms of driving a particular political agenda, policy agenda, particularly
austerity, unfortunately. But the IMF has suddenly realized that gender equality
is smart economics, in fact. They are really starting to increase their
attention on issues around gender analysis and gender budgeting. Also, the
Finance Minister is perhaps more likely to listen to the IMF than the items that
Shelagh referred to.
The other thing that we've seen working very well in different parts of
Europe is action at the municipal level. A lot of massive budgets are held by
cities in Europe. Big cities like Vienna or Brussels hold huge amounts of public
money. We've often found, with leadership from mayors and councils, really great
examples of the impact of doing good gender analysis and good gender budgeting.
You can show by example how effective it is, how it doesn't cost money, and it
makes good political sense. More political examples are often cited, and they
must spend more time on that. There is a great program in Vienna. They've been
running that sort of gender analysis across all departments in the city for
about a decade now. It has really transformed the way the city is lived in and
how investments are made, everything from provision of free childcare, elder
care issues, accessibility for pushchairs, but also disabled access. All of
those things have become really integrated into city planning. Those are just
three examples that came to my mind about how you can perhaps persuade the
The Chair: Thank you for that. We just had another technical problem.
Everything worked out well in the English language here, but the translation did
not work out. There is something along the line. I'm glad you got what you got
in for the moment, and we'll keep working on it because it's extremely
important. They tell me it would be against the law if you continued to speak to
us and we can't get it in two official languages in our country. We've got your
point so far, and we have lots of time to have this conversation. We appreciate
that. Senator Nancy Ruth, did you want to continue?
Senator Nancy Ruth: I think Dr. McInturff was going to make a comment.
Ms. McInturff: This is a question that is dear to my heart. I would
love to able to sit down and talk to the Finance Minister. In practical terms, I
think there are a number of instruments for making this an issue for Finance.
I think one of the first things is making sure everyone is speaking the same
language and everyone understands each other. What that means is that, for
example, Status of Women needs to have economists on staff and that Finance
needs to have feminist economists on staff. I think things do get lost in
That said, I share all the same concerns that were articulated by Joanna
around not assigning this task to a junior analyst who simply doesn't have the
power to make the decisions to ensure that that analysis actually gets acted
upon. That's a first step.
I think that an additional step would be something that my own organization
has started to do as part of their alternative federal budget, which we've been
producing for over 20 years now. For the last couple of years, when we produced
our alternative federal budget, which is fully costed, we also did a
distributional analysis of the impacts of what we're proposing. So what age
group would benefit from particular tax measures? Would men and women benefit
from particular job creation measures? This year, we're going to be able to be
much more specific. We use the data from Statistics Canada. If we can do it with
one full-time staff member and some contributors who volunteer their time, I
think that, certainly, our own Finance Department would be capable of tabling a
budget with that distributional analysis attached. I think that could be useful
for everyone to show to Canadians how they're being impacted by these budget
measures. Often, the impact is positive, so I don't think we should be afraid to
I think we also could make use of the Parliamentary Budget Office. I was
speaking to someone in the office, and the issue of gender budgeting came up. I
asked very nicely why they did not do gender budget analysis, and they said,
"It's not part of our mandate.'' If that is indeed the case, you might want to
revisit the mandate of the Parliamentary Budget Office. They play an important
role, and, certainly, we've seen their influence on, for example, income
splitting and other kinds of tax measures and finance measures that have been
introduced. I think that's another lever that people could take advantage of. I
think those would be some of the ways I think we could move Finance on this.
Senator Nancy Ruth: This is my last question: Do any of you see a role
for parliamentarians specifically in this issue in terms of accountability and
driving the agenda, since we don't all have the power to implement some of those
very good recommendations?
Ms. McInturff: It's essential. One of the most powerful things I've
seen not only in Canada but working with coalitions of NGO civil society
organizations around the world is the power of information. Parliamentarians
have the capacity to ask for information to be tabled in a way that civil
society organizations aren't always able to do or don't understand how to do
that, and to ask for those kinds of analyses to be performed and presented to
them. This is useful both to parliamentarians themselves and also to civil
society so they can see where the money is being spent and where analysis is
being performed and acted upon or not. These are important.
Senator Nancy Ruth: Dr. McInturff, do you see any advantage when a
piece of legislation is introduced in either chambers of Parliament that it also
be accompanied with specific and clear gender-based analysis of both the
financial implications and social implications?
Ms. McInturff: Yes, that would be essential.
The Chair: We have a language equality difficulty here. The
translators can do you, Dr. McInturff. You're going to be busy now. The video is
good from Brussels and Vancouver, but I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of
listening and learning from Brussels and Vancouver because there's static on the
line and the translators can't do it. According to the laws of Canada, we just
can't do that. It's all a learning experience, so we'll all take notes and learn
more from Dr. McInturff.
I'm explaining that we can't ask questions of the two witnesses from
Vancouver and Brussels, but we can put thoughts out to you and you can take
note. I'm awfully sorry about that. Technicians are working on it. Stay with us.
Ms. Maycock: I understand completely. We live in a multi-lingual
environment here in Brussels too. We are happy to send you material by email so
you can follow up on questions and you can translate them if you wish.
The Chair: I appreciate that. We'll continue here.
Senator Hubley: My question was for Ms. Day, but perhaps Dr. McInturff
will be able to answer as well. There has been incredible work done in Canada to
support women at work and in working with stakeholders to develop better
policies and programs that relate to women's equality. What is your opinion of
the GBA+ framework that was developed by Status of Women Canada? Do you feel
it's adequate? Also, given all the information we have been hearing, are there
areas we might see it strengthened and improved?
Ms. McInturff: A lot of good work has been done by Status of Women
with the very scarce resources they have, but we're really asking one
often-optional online training course to do more than it could possibly do.
Again, even with the best intentions on everyone's part, that online course
can't speak to the particular concerns of a public servant.
Training is useful, but it needs to be training that speaks to — when I'm
talking to people who are asking for advice about giving this type of training,
I like to say that you have to understand what problems people are already
facing as public servants, what's on their desks, and demonstrate how doing this
kind of analysis is going to help them solve those problems and how it's going
to help them do their jobs better and more effectively. Gender-based analysis
does that, and there's plenty of research to show that.
But an online course can't speak to what someone in Environment Canada is
looking at, unless you talk about what that subject is. So I think we need to
think beyond an online course. It's just not enough. It's maybe a first step.
Now that everyone knows those words and they have a rough idea, they can start
to ask questions. But it can't be all we do.
Fundamentally, as Shelagh and Joanna have both said, this is a question of
human rights and how we serve the people you represent. That means it is
political. It is about relations of power. It is about political momentum. It is
about a commitment to gender equality.
Actually, I find that when that is clear, people are much more motivated,
because we're talking about values of equality that many of us feel very
passionate about, even if our day job is in fisheries.
That kind of approach is going to be helpful. Again, as everyone has said,
there has to be leadership from the top. This can't be an add-on to somebody's
Senator Mitchell: This has been a powerful and compelling
presentation. I have several questions. First, I'm going to have to ask this of
Dr. McInturff but it was raised by Shelagh Day. I'm taken by the idea of a
domestic accountability mechanism, which we don't have. It would be useful to
this study to have an idea of what that might look like. Would that be a council
of judges? Would it be government-based or related somehow to government? What
would be the most effective way to set one of those up?
Ms. McInturff: I wish we had Shelagh's voice on the line. This is
outside my area of expertise. I do see the recommendations that came from the
FEWO, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. The report talked about a
commissioner or someone who would be in a leadership position and who would be
tasked solely with tracking and calling for accountability on this.
That's very useful because one of the things we've seen with gender
mainstreaming is that it ends up everywhere and nowhere. Again, I will harp on
the fact that Status of Women is so sorely under-resourced. I agree with the
comments we heard earlier about the lack of power at the cabinet table; they are
to be taken to heart.
Having something like a commissioner would be useful. Beyond that, hopefully
in their written submissions you can hear more from Shelagh and Joanna who are
better versed in these kinds of structural questions.
The Chair: With that in mind, just a reminder to the witnesses on
video conference: If you're taking notes on these questions, we would appreciate
you sending responses by email, fax or however you want to send them to our
clerk. Your answers to these questions would be extremely helpful to our study.
Once again, we apologize for not being able to hear from you now.
Senator Mitchell: My second question will undoubtedly reveal my
ignorance in this area. We have a problem in the RCMP in Canada with sexual
harassment and harassment. It's endemic to some extent, but it's particularly
specific and directed at women.
Can you do a gender-based analysis of a department culture? Gender-based
analysis in this context seems to be focusing on a bill, or bills and policies,
but maybe when we look at the budget, we need to have a gender-based analysis of
the whole organization of an organization like that, because it needs to be
fixed and it's not getting fixed.
Ms. McInturff: Absolutely. I focused here on economic policy simply
because that's the ground I'm more comfortable in. In the area of personal
security, we know that not only do women deal with sexual harassment in the
workplace but women who are experiencing domestic violence in their homes often
find that severely impacts their ability to perform work. The Canadian Labour
Congress has done some good research on how that affects women in the workplace.
So yes, it's possible to have an analysis of the kinds of structures that
need to be in place to ensure, first, that sexual assault and harassment don't
occur, but that when they do occur, that there is a proactive means of
responding to it so that the burden doesn't rest solely with the victim of that
As Joanna said, there are people who know how to solve these problems, or at
least help to address these problems. We have that expertise in academia, in
civil society organizations that do this work in public, often for very low pay
or no pay. I think we need to capture that and bring it into the places where
There has been very good work around policing and the kinds of implicit
biases which run not only along racial lines, which we've been hearing a lot
about in the news, but also along the lines of gender, and how we address those
in ways that don't create a sense of "this person is the gender cop and they're
here to get me,'' but in talking with RCMP about how they can do their job
better and how we can have a workplace environment that enables everyone to work
with one another with respect and dignity.
Senator Mitchell: There is quite a bit of research about the value of
having women on boards in corporations and that they actually do better with
more women. Are you aware of that type of analysis for boards of Crown
corporations or government-related enterprises: one, analysis of how we stack
up; and two, whether the findings in the corporate world parallel the effects in
the Crown corporation world?
Ms. McInturff: The research I know of that looks at women on boards, I
think their findings would be clearly applicable to Crown corporation boards. It
says that one woman isn't enough. I remember testifying in front of the Finance
Committee, and at the time it had one woman. She came up afterwards and said,
"I'm really glad you're raising these issues, because I do not feel that I can
raise them as the one woman. It makes me conspicuous in a way that I don't want
to be.'' The research has shown us that we need more than one, and I don't see
why that would be any different for a Crown corporation.
The research has also looked at places like Norway, where we've seen these
kinds of mandatory minimums of women on boards in place now for a number of
years. It tells us that there is a second step. What you tend to see is a small
group of women being appointed to a whole lot of boards, and you have an undue
burden. Also, on some level those women aren't able to represent a wide
constituency because there are so few of them. So I think there is a second step
there, which is not just appointing women, not just appointing more than one
woman, but making sure those appointments allow for a full representation of the
voices of women and other groups that are experiencing discrimination so that
insight is brought to the board.
Senator Omidvar: I have a couple of questions, chair, if you will
tolerate them. The first one is somewhat difficult, and I will try to find the
right words for it.
Inequality in our society and in our country is experienced differently by
different demographics. There has been a sense in the racialized communities
that the women's movement, the gender equality movement, has hierarchy. It's a
relationship and a partnership, but it gets a little messy, as these things do.
The question is, how do we make sure that a rising tide lifts all boats and
not just White women's boats? That's what I'm talking about.
I would like to get your response to initiatives and experiences you have had
in terms of making sure that your human rights framework that you all talk about
— by the way, this was an excellent presentation by all three, and I'm sorry I
can't talk to you, but hopefully you can talk to me later. I would like to get
your understanding of human rights being inclusive.
I could talk at length on this discussion about women on boards, which I am
completely fed up with, because it's only talking about a very tiny layer of
women who get shuffled around on the same boards. That is not equality. I'd like
your response to some of my frustrations here.
Ms. McInturff: You're absolutely right. First, I would say in response
that gender-based analysis that is not intersectional is not good analysis.
There's a vast difference in the area in which I work in terms of women's access
to employment if you are looking at immigrant women who are better educated as a
group than non-immigrant women. Sometimes people want to say that maybe these
groups aren't as educated or don't have the same experience. It's clearly not
true. What we're seeing looks like discrimination. It is the same with
Aboriginal women, with women with disabilities and with racialized women. You
see different rates of poverty and different rates of pay — a bigger pay gap for
those groups — and different levels of access to employment. You can't do this
analysis without taking account of those differences amongst women. There
clearly are differences.
The more specifically we can design our public policies and legislation, the
more effective they will be. That means looking at those differences and
understanding that they are intrinsic, as Joanna said, to how people live their
lives in the real world. If we want them to feel the impact of the policy we're
making or legislation we're passing, it needs to respond to those differences.
You asked for examples around this. For me, it has been the work around
women's poverty, where I have been pushed by my colleagues and allies and other
organizations to not just say men and women and to really talk about what
difference those intersectionalities make. When I talk about poverty, I don't
just talk about all women's poverty; I talk about Aboriginal women, women with
disabilities, and racialized and immigrant women.
In that case, there is some data there. We can use government data. The
annual data would come from the Labour Force Survey. It gets hard when you start
looking, as I have done, at the city level. They just don't sample enough people
to look at Aboriginal women in Ottawa with this level of education. The only
time we can do that fulsomely is when we get the census data, which is why I am
embracing the return of the long-form census.
The other example I would give — and here again it's the role of civil
society and activists in bringing this to the table — is that our census only
gives two options, male or female, and there are people in Canada who don't
think either of those boxes work for them. We would know a lot more about folks
that identify as transsexual. Just adding that box could be transformative in
terms of the research we could do and what we could say about the challenges
that group faces and how we can respond to them through our public policy making
and our governance. Yes, absolutely, there is no good gender-based analysis
without intersectional analysis.
Senator Omidvar: Thank you for keeping up that conversation about the
intersections. I think that will enrich us.
My next question is far more practical, because I'm at heart a very practical
person. In the absence of gender-based analysis being institutionalized into all
government departments — at this point, only one must perform gender-based
analysis, and that is Citizenship and Immigration — is there a civil society
organization that we can look to when bills come to us? In the absence of it
being done where it should be, maybe there is someplace outside that says, "Look
at this bill. Here are the five things you should think about when you're
reviewing it.'' You talked about the power of civil society organizations in
Ms. McInturff: Unfortunately, we've lost a lot of our national women's
organizations, the kinds of coalitions that brought together that expertise from
across the country.
I have found that there is tremendous expertise, but it's residing in
organizations that now are funded solely to provide services. I'll give a
concrete, practical example: the network of women's shelters. This is a policy
organization. They're there to provide good advice on policies related to
violence against women. I think at the moment they have two staff. They get
calls, as I did when I was the director of FAFIA, from women in distress.
Their ED spent a day finding for shelter for a woman who called our office
and said she had been put on hold. She called 311 and had been put on hold for
an hour. She was obviously in distress. She didn't know where to turn. So she
spent her day finding a bed for that woman. That's not even a service-providing
If we look at our service providers, who have tremendous insight about these
things, tremendous capacity for analysis and to provide advice, they are
stretched. When it comes down to it, at the end of the day, they're going to
spend their time finding a bed for someone and not writing a policy brief.
I think it's very important to understand the expertise is out there, but we
have to pay for it. This can't be for free.
You heard from Professor Lahey last week about how women perform twice as
many hours of unpaid work compared to men. We can't make this one more bit of
unpaid work. There is a huge pool of expertise out there which could be brought
to bear and could be a huge aid to parliamentarians.
There is some very good work by an academic named Miriam Sawyer, who works in
the Australian context but, as you know, there is a very similar Westminster
system there. In one case, she followed a piece of legislation from inception to
enactment in law. What she found was that it was an ongoing dialogue between
legislators and civil society. It was the fact that there was that dialogue and
expertise so that when there was a political opening to table this legislation,
not only could it be tabled, but the parliamentarians were able to reach out to
groups that had been following this issue when it was not so popular and were
able to bring it to table. The result was better legislation.
There have also been multi-country studies which show the same thing
happening on a much broader scale, on a longitudinal scale.
The Chair: We will have time for a second round. It must be painful
for the two witnesses who are watching us. We are looking forward to all of your
remarks by print.
Senator Martin, I think you had an observation on this as well as a question.
Senator Martin: Thank you to all the presenters.
I just had a response to what Senator Omidvar has asked in terms of civil
society organizations that could provide the kind of expertise. It's always the
lack of funding, and not all groups are national in scope, but there are some
really good groups at the provincial levels which the Government of Canada and
others should look at.
I'm from the province of B.C., but I'm sure Shelagh Day knows the Ending
Violence Association of BC. I know that they had done some great policy analyses
and research that relates to what we're discussing. I was so impressed by their
analyses that I had maintained a relationship with them.
I think the best practices are out there. That was one of my questions,
whether we should be looking at provinces and territories that are doing some
very good analyses and whether any of you know of such groups — I mentioned the
one — or even other jurisdictions.
My question is related to lasting week's committee meeting about the tool
developed recently and now being used, the due diligence and evidence-based
analysis tool for memoranda to cabinet. We all received a copy.
When I look at the section where the GBA is required, there are boxes. There
are larger boxes where certain evidence has to be provided.
My question would be on the accountability piece. How do we follow up and
follow through to ensure that the negative impacts or what has been provided is
indeed happening? I've been involved in all sorts of post-mortem meetings where
we come up with all these lists of things we should improve, but when we come
around to it again, it is often not applied. I'm curious on the accountability
piece and the follow-through that we should be doing and what we can recommend
in our report.
Ms. McInturff: I agree. It's essential. As I said earlier, we can
produce all the analyses in the world, and if no one acts on the
recommendations, it's not doing any good.
The memorandum to cabinet is in the early stage of the production of
legislation or a budget or policy. I would want to see accountability at the
point of implementation. So looking back at recommendations made, do we see
evidence that this policy has been shaped and has taken those recommendations on
The Government of Norway has something very similar to this kind of
due-diligence framework for the memorandum to cabinet, but once programs are
under way, they check in on those programs. It would be as the people managing
it see appropriate, one, two or three years in, but before they are over. It
stops it from being a game of playing post-mortem and being the Monday night
It also means you have a chance to make changes while you're still working.
The people who unroll those programs want to do good work, and I think this is
something that could be effective, having a mechanism for looking at programs
once they are in place and saying, "All right. You've had a year or two years.
Is this meeting the needs of men and women in our community? Is this doing what
we set out to do in ways that reach all the people that it's meant to reach? If
it's not, how can we make changes right now so that it does a better job?''
I used to teach, and universities have student evaluations at the end of the
semester. As a professor, you get them about two months after you've finished
teaching the course. They often have good advice in them, and sometimes there
are things that could have been easily corrected. After a few years of teaching,
I started doing a very informal mid-term evaluation and was able to get feedback
from students in the middle of the course. "You couldn't see my PowerPoint
slides? Well, I can fix that, and I'm not finding out about it long after the
end of the class.
Maybe you want to talk to some folks in the Government of Norway about how
they do this.
The same is true with government programs. We check back with them as they've
been unrolled and say, "This doesn't seem to be meeting the mandate for the
people you're trying to serve. What can we do? What would make this better, and
can we start doing that now?''
We are going to have a post-mortem when the program is complete, but there is
a chance for people to do better. Given that chance, people will be more
motivated to do it, because they do not feel like they're being told they did a
bad job. They're being given an opportunity to do a better job.
Senator Nancy Ruth: Your post-mortem idea picks up on what Ms. Day
said, that we need to look at policies now. That's one thing the GBA, the way we
run it in Canada, absolutely avoids. I was very pleased you said it, because I
think it's critical.
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you to all the witness. Senator Nancy Ruth
hit the point. We've had tools before its implementation. Implementation, if we
could get a start on that.
This committee did some excellent work on the Public Service Commission.
After all, the public servants are supposed to reflect the communities. We found
that four target groups were moving ahead but not adequately at all. We
struggled with all the tools and the devices and came down to two things. One,
we said that hiring happens in Ottawa too often and doesn't reach Canada. Too
many of the applicants come from our communities that need to be reached through
their own devices — newspapers locally, et cetera — if we want diversity in our
We came down to one conclusion: If you're going to work with any group, a
financial benefit or withholding of a bonus was an excellent tool. It sharpens
the mind when your paycheque comes. We recommended in our report that no deputy
minister should receive a bonus without justifying his personal, and therefore
his department's, look at increasing women and minority groups, et cetera.
Should we be doing the same on trying to find a way to build incentives for
people here? Otherwise, I think it becomes a paper exercise. You can fill out
what you have done and see these reports, but it doesn't translate into real
action. The public service should be leading as an example on gender-based
Ms. McInturff: Absolutely. And this is something that working with
economists — not a terribly diverse group — and it's something in my own
organization we spend a lot of time thinking about, how not just to reproduce
the all- male panel which we get in economics fairly often.
One thing that has become clear is that you need to start with training,
mentorship and internships. You need to connect to people where they live
through reaching out to the organizations, whether they are campus-based
organizations, neighbourhood organizations or organizations that represent a
particular community, to say that we are looking for people in your community.
You can have internships which prioritize or aim specifically at, for example,
training and employing an indigenous economist, to give an example of something
I'm trying to do in my organization, so that there is a pipeline of diverse
people working in the fields where we need them, but we're supporting them in
the start. So, A, they think of public service as an option for their career
and, B, you know who they are and they know who you are, so that they are
putting in their applications when you have that position, that next step up in
I know the public service does do a fair bit of tracking, but you can't fix a
problem that you don't know that you have, so transparency and tracking make a
huge difference as well. I've certainly seen this around pay gaps. I've done
research on pay gaps within the public service. You still see significant pay
gaps for women, for Aboriginal persons and visible minorities and racialized
groups, and knowing that is a first step to doing something about it.
The idea of there being a stick there as well as a carrot is crucial. There
needs to be some not only incentive but also a disincentive if you don't do it.
I think the financial lever is fairly effective.
The Chair: We'll move to a second round.
Ms. Day can't answer this because of our technical difficulties. You alluded
that the whole thing has to come from the top. Are we talking about the Prime
Minister? Besides a mandate letter, does the Prime Minister of this country have
to make a statement, stand up in public in a speech to all of us? Is this the
leadership you're asking for?
Ms. McInturff: Absolutely. I think it needs to happen with the Prime
Minister. I think it needs to happen at the cabinet table. There needs to be a
clear sense that this is not optional, that this is part of how we govern and
this is part of good governance.
I think the research is there to support that claim. I think that there is
plenty of research to demonstrate that each of the cabinet minister's portfolios
will benefit from this. I do think that the checking back in and some kind of
stick to go with the carrot, in terms of whether or not your funding gets
approved, based on whether or not you're actually making decisions taken from
the product of gender-based analysis would be helpful as well.
The Chair: Let's hope he's listening today.
Ms. McInturff: I hope so.
Senator Mitchell: I was very interested in your comments about the
bias against women in job creation funding. I think that a good deal of that
comes from the fact that so much of that job creation funding goes to
infrastructure, which is construction, which is biased against women.
We're doing a study on infrastructure funding in the Finance committee, so
it's very timely. How would you structure job creation stimulation in a way to
avoid that problem?
Ms. McInturff: The first thing is that we need to understand where men
and women are working. There are some fields where you have relatively equal
numbers of men and women, although even there you still see some stratification
in terms of — say, if you look at medicine, we have relatively equal numbers of
men and women graduating from schools of medicine, but the particular fields
that men and women tend to go into are different. The men tend to go to the
higher paid specialties, so you still see pay gaps there and in rates of
promotion and so on.
What we need to think about when we're looking to create jobs is whether we
are creating jobs also in the areas where women tend to work. Because the areas
where women tend to work fall in the dominion of the provinces, that means we
need federal leadership but we also need to have those conversations with the
provinces. I know we're looking at negotiations right now around transfers to
provinces, and this is somewhere where I think the federal government has a role
to play in terms of enabling provinces to do that kind of spending and job
creation in those fields where women are working and where they are earning a
decent salary. This is essential.
We talked a lot about the differences that men and women experience in the
economic sphere, but we tend to all live together in our communities, and so we
need to think about this as something that benefits everyone.
For example, take what's happening in Alberta. Alberta, unfortunately, has
had the biggest pay gap between men and women and one of the biggest gaps in
employment between men and women. One of the reasons why that has happened is we
have had a lot of growth in male-dominated sectors: Construction is the largest
employment sector for men in Alberta; oil and gas is still predominately male
fields. The fields where we have seen women's employment go up are low-paying
fields, like hospitality and retail.
What happens when we have a commodity bust, which happens not only to oil,
and we can think about auto parts and we can think about all other commodity
busts, is you see a lot of men losing jobs. If those men are in families with a
woman who works at Tim Hortons, they are in big trouble. If they are in a family
with a woman who is a nurse, they're not. They will make it through the bust
into better times. As a government, we need to think about this as something
that will create security for everyone if we do this. We will allow our citizens
to ride out those difficulties in our economy, which are inevitable, not
predictable but inevitable.
That is good for everyone. I come back again to this. Women are not a special
interest group. They are part and parcel of our families, communities and
country. When we do things that benefit them, they benefit everyone.
Senator Nancy Ruth: I want to get your response on the function of the
Library of Parliament. Over the years I've been here, I have asked many
questions about all kinds of things, and they've come up with interesting
research from around the world, but I don't usually get it with a gender-based
analysis. I'm wondering if you see a role there. They give us information for
each committee hearing and also as individual parliamentarians who may be
interested in any particular interest. I'm keen to have this made public, in
part, so parliamentarians become aware that this is an issue.
The other thing is that they sometimes provide witness lists that the
steering committees may choose from. I don't know whether there are feminist
groups in any area, whether agriculture or defence or anything else, which they
provide, but I would assume that it would be nice if they did.
Secondly, I would assume that many of those groups would not always have the
financial capacity to prepare and give documents. I did notice in last year's
budget that the government may have increased the money to Status of Women
Canada, but it did no increase in core funding to any women's groups.
How would you get the Library of Parliament to put a GBA into all their
analyses, both individually and for groups, and insist that they search for
feminist analysis in every area with which Parliament deals?
Ms. McInturff: I would come back to the point that you can't solve a
problem if you don't know you have it. If Parliamentary researchers aren't
drawing attention to the gaps that face women in all the fields they're asked to
present information on, then you're not getting the best research that you could
get. We need to have some kind of mandate to produce that research.
I would say that when you're talking about research and analysis, you really
need the expertise. Training people is fine, but I go to women's studies
departments fairly regularly to talk to people who are doing MAs and Ph.D.s in
women's studies. You need to have bodies in the room, people who are hired as
full-time, permanent staff who have the capacity to do this research in-depth
and be leaders within the pool of researchers that we have at the Library of
Parliament. I think you need that depth of expertise.
Yes, absolutely. If it happens only when a parliamentarian asks for it to
happen, then we're going to get an uneven level of analysis and you're not going
to have the tools that you need to pass legislation that is going to work for
both halves of the population.
The Chair: That's my list of questions for this particular hearing. I
see your hand waving, so I'm going to break the law for 10 seconds. Go ahead.
Ms. Maycock: It was just to see whether we could be excused.
The Chair: Absolutely. We're almost done.
Ms. Maycock: Thank you all.
The Chair: Thank you. Just briefly, you have 10 seconds, Ms. Day.
Please, go ahead.
Ms. Day: I just want to say thank you very much and how very
frustrating it is to hear all these excellent questions and not be able to
answer. Thank you very much, and we hope to be able to further the discussion in
The Chair: Thank you. We really appreciate it. I want to reinforce
that if you have your own answers to those last observations and questions, we
would appreciate if you could send us those, as well. Once again, I apologize
for the technical difficulties, as they would say.
I want to thank the good doctor here for all the information you have given
us today. It's extremely helpful. I want to thank Senator Nancy Ruth for
bringing the subject to our attention. It has all been extremely helpful.
(The committee adjourned.)